This is a case [Agate v. Herrick Feinstein, NYLJ 9/20/06, York. J] with fairly far-reaching effects. Plaintiff arbitrated a securities case, and the arbitration went badly. Plaintiff thought he should have been awarded several millions of dollars yet received only several hundred thousand dollars in award, paying almost that much in legal fees. The kicker? The arbitrators gave the award with no explanation, and plaintiff’s legal malpractice case had no foundation upon which to build. In other words, this lawsuit was dead upon arrival, because plaintiff could not prove why the arbitrators gave so little. Contrast this with a case in which a judge renders a decision, or a jury grants an award upon a special verdict. Agate had no basis upon which to assert that some failing by defendant caused the arbitrator’s decision.
The greater import of this case, other than the individual loss or loss of others engaged in this arbitration, is that when a case is arbitrated, there may be no recourse to legal malpractice, even if the mistakes appear self evident.